MOVIE REVIEW: “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” stars Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express , Ophelia), Adam Driver (Marriage Story , Silence ), John Boyega (Attack the Block, Pacific Rim: Uprising), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina), Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet), Joonas Suotamo (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi), Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth, The End of the F***ing World [TV series]), Keri Russell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Waitress), Carrie Fisher (The ‘Burbs, When Harry Met Sally…), Domhnall Gleeson (Frank, About Time), Richard E. Grant (Logan, Gosford Park), Mark Hamill (Child’s Play , Con Man), Kelly Marie Tran (Sorry for Your Loss [TV series], XOXO), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Black Panther), and Ian McDiarmid (Sleepy Hollow , The Lost City of Z). It is directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible III), who wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (Argo, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice). A dwindled rebellion looks to defeat the First Order for good, but trouble is on the horizon: Palpatine (McDiarmid) is back, and Rey (Ridley) must find him before he unleashes his power on the galaxy.
Okay, hold on, wait… what? “The dead speak”? Excuse me? Baking powder? Alright guys, I know, this review is a long time coming. Every critic in the galaxy has said their peace on this desperation attempt from Disney, and I’m showing up late to the party. So, I’ll make this as simple as I can. Whereas “The Last Jedi” took everything J.J Abrams set up with the first installment of this new trilogy (“The Force Awakens”) and shove it down the shredder, this new, final iteration seeks to clean up Rian Johnson’s mess (depending on how you view “The Last Jedi,” it could either read as a mess or a genius move – to this critic, it was a misstep). What does that mean? J.J. is back, ladies and gentlemen, setting out to chew bubblegum and kick some “A,” and he’s all out of gum. All out of hope too, if I do say so myself. While the acclaimed director did what he could to piece together some of the remnants this trilogy still holds, it wasn’t enough to save it ultimately, leaving “Rise of Skywalker” to be the living embodiment of an elongated sigh. Why is Palpatine back? Why do Kylo and Rey form a love connection? Why are there many close-call deaths? Well folks, I couldn’t tell you. Neither could the film. As I introduced us in this review, I was confused to find the opening scroll reading as if a huge chapter was taken out of the book between “Last Jedi” and this one. It’s as if the previous film didn’t exist, because honestly, J.J. seemed to be making this one more of a sequel to “Force Awakens” than a follow-up to “Last Jedi.” Sure, some things had to be mentioned to reinforced, but it was more so tucked under the rug than anything. I watched as our heroes went from planet to planet, in search of the object that will lead them to Palpatine. The pacing was wild, unhinged to the point where it was getting ridiculous. More so in their emotional moments where a character might die (or does die) and it comes off as a blip more than a tear-fest. There’s no build-up; no time for it, anyways. The film only has so much room to finish off this blunder of a trilogy, and while it does have its cool moments, it’s not enough to save it. I’m sure most people would agree with this, as the feature seemed to be oozing at the seams with desperation, a hope in an escape from this series. I could tell the writers were in a pickle. I would be too if I were in their shoes. Heck, Carrie Fisher died before production began and her character was still alive. So, they had to improvise with her as well. Everything about “Rise of Skywalker” feels off-the-cuff. There were plenty of scenes where I audibly said “okay, we’re doing this now,” or “geez, where is this going?” Thank goodness it kept its tone. While everything seems to be crashing down, at least Abrams was able to provide a fun feature. Instead of me waving my fist like I did in “The Last Jedi,” I’m instead sitting back and watching a feel-good tire fire that has a few good sparks flying off it. The cinematography is good, the music keeps things aligned, and there are some memorable scenes that’ll stay in audiences’ minds. I get it. I knew what I was getting into. Did I expect it to be this disastrous? No. I mean, after three films I still don’t feel connected to our lead characters. But at least I was able to sit through this and be entertained for a few hours. Doesn’t earn it any badge, but hey, I wasn’t bored. The fascination of where the filmmakers were taking this kept me engaged enough. By the end of the movie, I did what any normal person would do: turn off the television, walk upstairs, and think back to when George Lucas sold “Star Wars” to Disney for 4.2 billion dollars. He’s swimming in the dough while we’re stuck with the burned out revivals. I’m sure there are (and forever will be) debates over whether or not this trilogy is worse than the prequels. I’ll just say that, while the prequels have been mocked and meme’d to smithereens, I still found more enjoyment in the lore of “Star Wars” through those films than these. No matter how wooden of performances the actors displayed in the prequels, I still felt more invested in them than these new peeps. Why? Because they just weren’t developed enough. I had high hopes for this trilogy after enjoying the first film. Who would’ve thought it would take us here? No one. Not even Disney. Maybe one day in the future we’ll look back on these and think they’re decent. Age can turn things better sometimes… yeah, I don’t know. “The Rise of Skywalker” did their best to answer all questions and give fan service, but this horse died with the previous installment. Other than for the sake of finishing your “Star Wars” marathon, this one isn’t worth a watch. FINAL SCORE: 59%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: